|Volume 17 Number 6 June 2015||
Ernest S. Underwood
“Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: ‘Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I! Send me’” (Isaiah 6:1-13). This period was a turning point for Israel. It was a time of great prosperity, but it was also a time that was tainted with moral decay. The northern kingdom had already gone into captivity, and its sister nation, the kingdom of Judah, was swiftly declining. Isaiah’s responsibility was to preach repentance to those who did not want to repent.
Today, there is little difference. We have the technology to do so many wonderful things, but what about our morality as a nation? Look at the households without a husband or a father. Divorce is climbing at a “way past alarming” rate. Teenage sex is encouraged by providing all the devices for so-called “safe sex.” False teachers are rejecting God’s Word and clamoring for political correctness. Even in the church of the Lord there are too few with an unshakable faith.
Who among us is willing to so order his or her life that he or she can say, “Here am I, send me?” Is your life, my friend, both spiritually and morally such that God would be pleased to send you? Do you need to make some changes? Do you need to obey the Gospel so that your past sins can and will be washed away by the blood of Jesus?
Christians Are to Be Salt and Light
Fred C. Nowell, Jr.
Christians are called to be many things. As followers of Jesus the Christ, Christians are to be distinctly different than those that choose not to follow Him. People of God are called to be a different quality than people of the world. “Quality” according to Merriam-Webster is, “how good or bad something is: a characteristic or feature that someone or something has: something that can be noticed as a part of a person or thing: a high level of value or excellence to be many things.” Therefore, Christians (like everyone else) are recognized by their qualities, whether good or bad. In Matthew 5:13-16, Jesus told those listening to Him that they were to be the salt and light of the world. Let’s look a little deeper into this matter.
Those that Follow Jesus Are
to be the Salt of the Earth
Salt has a number of qualities. The Lord’s figurative usage of salt of His followers could have many applications. Salt is a product of the water as well as of the land. The majority of the salt we harvest from water is used for food, while the salt taken from the ground is mostly used for utility reasons, such as melting snow and ice from roadways. Salt makes up about 3.5% of ocean and sea water in the world. The Dead Sea (also called the Salt Sea) is different. Like a few other bodies of water, the Dead Sea has a tremendous amount of salt in it. The salinity is 34.2% making it difficult to swim but very easy to float.
All those hearing Jesus would have known about the density of the Dead or Salt Sea and the importance of salt in general (seeing that fishing and the preserving of fresh fish was well known among many). The body produces salt and needs salt to live. Salt, therefore, is a powerful and important need for the body as well as for the world. Hence, Jesus told His listeners that they were to have a great impact on the world!
In the Old Testament, salt was required in all sacrifices (Leviticus 2:13). “Every sacrifice of your food offering shall you season with salt. And you shall not allow the salt of the covenant of your God to be lacking from your food offering. You shall offer salt with all your offerings.”As living sacrifices to God (Romans 12:1), we are to be the salt of the earth.
Salt has different qualities. Some of the most basic ones are as follows. Purity – Salt is a product of the sun and the sea, and it is considered to be very pure. So, if we are to be salt, we are to be examples of purity in the world. Inspiration is replete with direction, instruction and commands to be pure in our minds, hearts, consciences and lives (Matthew 5:8; 1 Timothy 1:5; 3:9; 4:12; 5:2; 2 Timothy 2:22; 1 Peter 1:22).
Preservation – Salt prevents decay. Those following Jesus as salt will be an antiseptic influence rather than a corrosive one! Christians are to stop infections and corruption from harming the body! Paul encouraged the Ephesians to grow up or mature in Christ—to be preserving members of the “whole body, fitted together and compacted by that which every joint supplies, according to the effectual working in the measure of each part, producing the growth of the body to the edifying of itself in love.”
Flavor or Seasoning – Those following Jesus are to be in every manner of life what salt is to food. Though too much salt is not pleasing to the pallet, just the right amount IS! We are neither to be bland nor belligerent. Those claiming to follow Jesus are often recognized as being too bland rather than overwhelming.
Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, “I might have entered the ministry if certain clergy I knew did not look and act like undertakers.” I mean no disrespect to those of this profession. As a matter of fact, I have a personal friend that is in this field, and he is a joy to be around and is most often looked upon as friendly and uplifting. However, many of Holmes’ day were most likely stern, serious and grim most of the time. Jesus said, “If the salt loses its savor, with what shall it be salted? It is no longer good for anything, but to be thrown out and to be trodden underfoot by men.”
When our saltiness (influence) is too little or too great, it will be ineffective or an offense—“good for nothing.” When salt in the first century had lost its qualities because of exposure to the elements of the world, it was taken out and spread in the pathways and roads to fill holes. Literally, it was “trodden under the feet of men.” The Christian’s influence (like our speech) is to be properly seasoned (Colossians 4:6) so that we might have the very best influence we can.
Those Following Jesus Are
to be the Light of the World
Jesus told His disciples in John 9:5, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” We are to be luminaries of Jesus, who knew He would not always be in this world. Thus, He was preparing His disciples or followers to shine in the world. Paul told the Philippians (2:15), “Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That you may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.” In other words, Paul was telling by inspiration to be an influence that is seen and cannot be hidden!
Jerusalem is a city that cannot be hidden. In fact, it is still referred to as “The city on a hill.” In the dead of night, the city could be seen because of many glowing lights. Today the city shines brightly on the hill and can be seen from miles away. We teach our young to sing “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine…,” and yet, many forget to let our own lights shine! Are you the light in your world? Do those around us recognize our godly example? God’s guiding light (His Word, Psalm 119:105) helps us to shine so that God may be glorified (Matthew 5:16)! Our light often serves as a guide and a warning for others. Because we follow Jesus and because we desire to bring others to Him, we instruct, help and warn those in danger. Like the first century Christians, we too are a “chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation” and “a peculiar people; that we should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” Like the many lighthouses up and down the coast, Christians serve as warning lights to a world that is in danger of the rocks and reefs of sin that will sink souls if our light is dim or out!
Jesus told those following Him to be as salt and light to the world around them, to make a good impact and to do what they could to make positive effects for His cause. May our saltiness and illumination be well pleasing to God. May we always be mindful of the influence we have with those around us and those we meet. Let us take an introspective look and determine the quality of each and do what is needful to be more like Jesus.